The protector San Francisco has once again taken up the name of Spider-Man. But is he truly worthy of it? Your Major Spoilers review of Superior Spider-Man #1 awaits!
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: Mike Hawthorne
Inker: Wade von Grawbadger
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Nick Lower
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: December 26, 2018
Release Date: $3.99
Previously in Superior Spider-Man: Otto is going to prove to the world that he’s the most effective and (to him at least) the best super hero in the world. But when a villain that ridiculously more powerful than him shows up in San Francisco, there’s no way Ock can win, right?
ONCE MORE UNTO THE BREACH, I GUESS
We open with Otto Octavius wearing the mask of Spider-Man once again, facing down against the non-threat of Stilt-Man. The battle isn’t particularly challenging, but it threatens to make him late for a big lecture at Horizon University, causing Superior to take quick and drastic action to bring Stilt-Man down. When the villain complains that he could have died if our hero miscalculated, Otto haughtily reples: “I do not miscalculate.” Cut to Professor Elliot Tolliver, Otto’s new identity, giving his final lecture to an enraptured class of students and fellow teachers, ending with an ominous shout of “The die is cast!” His crush Anna-Maria, however, isn’t buying it (especially since it feels very close to a super-villain’s triumphant speech.) Tolliver is troubled by her mistrust, leading him to consider how he got here, which is a really smooth and effective way of giving new readers the background of who he was, how we got here and the half-decade of Superior Spidey history in the space of just a few pages. He even gets hit on by Dansen Macabre, one of the sort-kinda villains he has hired to be his eyes and ears in the streets, but the next day Anna Maria confronts him with the truth: She knows he’s Otto Octavius and he’s going to jail.
HIS MASQUERADE IS OVER
Superior Spider-Man #1 ends with Terrax the Tamer, former herald of Galactus, arriving and Anna Maria agreeing to let him go out and fight the threat, but anybody who knows the power level of Galactian heralds knows that things are about to get difficult for Superior Spider-Man, perhaps for the first time. While I like this issue, it feels like only a couple of weeks since I review Superior Octopus #1, and I find myself a little annoyed at what feels like indecision on the part of Marvel editorial. I have this worry in the back of my brain that the time for this story has come and gone and that the cyclical nature of comics will have it buried in another month or four. Gage’s story is compelling, and his characterization of Octavius/Tolliver/Superior is well-balanced, making him seem like he’s got the nature of superheroing down before revealing that he’s still the man who tried to murder New York City on a whim. The art is also quite well-done, if a little bit sketchy for my tastes, with the inking of von Grawbadger making it feel a little bit like his work with Stuart Immonen. As a fan of Immonen’s work, even on Ultimate Spider-Man, that’s a big plus for me, and the range of facial expressions in this issue’s art is quite impressive.
BOTTOM LINE: IT HAS POTENTIAL, BUT I’M WORRIED
I understand that comics is a cyclical business and that Superior Spider-Man will probably run less than 24 issues before being replaced by the next big thing, but part of me is tired of that carousel of chracterization. Even with those concerns, though, Superior Spider-Man #1 is a good comic that delivers a lot of exposition effectively, has strong art and strong characterizations (including former horror host and Night Shift member Digger doing horror host narration for everything he sees, which is pretty hilarious) earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. If I were sure that any consequences of this run would stick around for Otto and the Spider-Man cast, though, I might rate it even higher…
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SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #1
I like this issue, but I'm a little annoyed by the on-and-off nature of Otto's Spider-Man facade... Hopefully this run will pull it all together.